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RIBA announces July results of the Future Trends Survey


24 August 2009

Press office contact:

Mina Vadon
T: +44 (0)207 307 3761
E: mina.vadon@riba.org

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today announces the July 2009 results of its monthly Future Trends Survey, marking the start of the third quarter monitoring business and employment trends affecting the architecture profession.

The trends emanating from last month's survey continue to highlight a steady return to some optimism; only 18 per cent of practices were expecting a decrease in workload, compared to 21 per cent in June.  Practices predicting an increase in workload also rose from 27 per cent in June to 31 per cent in July, a further indication that practices continue to grow more confident about their work outlook. The number of staff that are currently underemployed also continued to decrease from 23 per cent in June to 22 per cent in July.

The most significant change in workload predictions has occurred within the public sector, which rose from just 16 per cent in June to 29 per cent in July. There was also an improvement in the commercial sectors, with expectations for growth steadily increasing from 13 per cent in June to 16 per cent in July. However, there was minimal change within the private housing sector, with workload predictions remaining constant at 24 per cent in June and July.

Changes in predictions for staff retention were positive overall, with 11 per cent of practices expecting staff levels to increase over the next three months, compared to 8 per cent in June. The number of practices expecting staff numbers to be cut decreased further from 16 per cent in June to 13 per cent in July; 76 per cent of all practices expected staff levels to remain constant over the next three months, which is a minimal increase from 75 per cent in June.

The statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to regularly report on two key confidence tracking indices relating to future workloads and staffing levels. For July 2009, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index is +18 (compared to +10 in June 2009) and the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index is -2 (compared to -8 in June 2009).

Adrian Dobson, Director of Practice at the RIBA said:

"T his is the fourth month in a row when there has been a steady improvement in the workload index, which stood at a very pessimistic -31 in March 2009.  The practices in our Survey are now predicting that workloads will see a modest improvement over the next quarter.  There is a significant variation in the Survey returns between the different UK nations and regions, with practices based in London and the South East currently much more confident about some recovery in workloads than practices elsewhere in the UK.  Clearly the autumn period will be critical in revealing the validity of this recovery in sentiment and whether there is a real sustainable increase in architects' workloads.

"In next month's Future Trends Survey we will be asking the practices in our Survey sample about year-on-year student employment levels. This year has proven to be probably the most challenging for the profession in a generation, and unfortunately this year's graduates are entering an extremely difficult employment market.  It is hoped that the gradual improvement of confidence levels in the profession will encourage practices to take on Part 1 and Part 2 students in the coming year, and that student salaries will be maintained at levels which facilitate access to the profession and allow the future skills base to be developed."

Notes to editors

  1. For further information please contact Mina Vadon in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3761 or email mina.vadon@inst.riba.org
  2. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects' profession.
  3. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email practice@inst.riba.org .  The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence by our partners the Fees Bureau.
  4. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work.  This figure is used to represent the "RIBA Future Trends Workload Index", which for July 2009 is therefore +18.
  5. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff.  This figure is used to represent the "RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index", which for July 2009 is therefore -2.


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